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The 2006 Supreme Court ruling on police reforms

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Important security agencies.


The 2006 Supreme Court ruling on police reforms


National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) core advisory group on criminal justice system reforms has made the following recommendations to the Ministry of Home Affairs:

  1. The Union Home Ministry and the State Governments should set up police complaints authorities as per the judgment in the Prakash Singh vs Union of India, 2006, case.
  2. the status of compliance should be displayed on the websites of the Ministry and the State Home Departments.
  3. The MHA and the Law Ministry should consider implementing the recommendations of the 113th report of the Law Commission to add Section 114 B to the Indian Evidence Act. This would ensure that if a person sustains injuries in custody, it is presumed that the injuries were inflicted by the police.
  4. Make the legal framework technology-friendly to speed up the criminal justice system.
  5. The Supreme Court’s December 2020 order to install CCTV cameras with night vision in all police stations should be “implemented immediately” to ensure accountability.
  6. Involve trained social workers and law students with police stations as part of community policing and incorporate community policing in police manuals, laws and advisories.


What is the SC’s Prakash Singh judgment on police reforms?

Prakash Singh, who served as DGP of UP Police and Assam Police besides other postings, filed a PIL in the Supreme Court post retirement, in 1996, seeking police reforms.

  • In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court in September 2006 had directed all states and Union Territories to bring in police reforms.


What measures were suggested by the Supreme Court?

  1. Fixing the tenure and selection of the DGP to avoid situations where officers about to retire in a few months are given the post.
  2. In order to ensure no political interference, a minimum tenure was sought for the Inspector General of Police so that they are not transferred mid-term by politicians.
  3. Postings of officers should be done by Police Establishment Boards (PEB) comprising police officers and senior bureaucrats to insulate powers of postings and transfers from political leaders.
  4. Set up State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) to give a platform where common people aggrieved by police action could approach.
  5. Separate investigation and law and order functions to better improve policing.
  6. Set up of State Security Commissions (SSC) that would have members from civil society.
  7. Form a National Security Commission.


How did states respond to these directives?

Following the 2006 judgment, not even one state was fully compliant with the apex court directives.

  • 18 states passed or amended their Police Acts in this time, but not one fully matches legislative models.



Prelims Link:

  1. When was the National Police Commission established?
  2. Ribeiro committee is associated with?
  3. Key recommendations made by Malimath Committee.
  4. Police under 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  5. Prakash Singh case is more popularly associated with?


Write a note on police reforms.

Sources: the Hindu.